Screening long-term variability and change of soil moisture in a changing climate

Georgia Destouni, Lucile Verrot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Soil moisture is an essential component of water variability and change in the landscape. This paper develops a conceptual and analytical framework for linking hydro-climatic change at the surface and soil-groundwater conditions in the subsurface, and quantifying long-term development of soil moisture statistics in a changing climate. Soil moisture is evaluated both in the unsaturated zone and over a fixed soil depth that may also include a variable groundwater table. Long-term variability and change of soil moisture are assessed for a hydro-climatic observation record that extends over the whole 20th century in a major Swedish drainage basin. Frequencies of particularly dry and wet soil moisture events are investigated for different 20-year climatic periods. Results show major increase in the frequency of dry events from the beginning to the end of the 20th century. This indicates increased risk for hydrological and agricultural drought even though the risk for meteorological drought, in terms of precipitation, has decreased in the region. The developed quantification framework can also be used to screen future scenarios of soil moisture change under projected climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-139
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2014


  • soil moisture
  • groundwater table
  • climate change
  • hydro-climate
  • drought


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